Chemistry Professor’s Research Showcased in Prestigious Oxford University Press Publication

Chemistry Assistant Professor’s Research Published in Prestigious Oxford University Press Publication

September 2023

Ilyas Yildirim, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Charles Schmidt College of Science, co-authored a recently featured article in the prestigious Nucleic Acids Research journal. The high-profile, peer-reviewed journal, published by Oxford University Press, highlighted his team’s research on the “Conformational dynamics of RNA G4C2 and G2C4 repeat expansions causing ALS/FTD using NMR and molecular dynamics studies.”

“Targeting RNA structures with small molecules is a novel therapeutic approach, which can rescue various disease-associated phenotypes,” explained Yildirim. “RNA loops are dynamic, which makes them good targets in drug design. Capitalization of specific RNA conformations with small molecules could provide a novel approach in RNA therapeutics for currently incurable diseases.”

The researchers studied the conformational dynamics adopted by 2×2 GG/GG and 2×2 CC/CC RNA loops, using both experimental and computational methods and characterized the structure and underlying dynamics. For the first time, the team showed that RNA 2×2 GG/GG loops prefer syn-anti/anti-syn and anti-syn/anti-syn conformations.

“Such a structural change in RNA G4C2 due to interaction with a small molecule is observed for the first time,” stated Yildirim. “This observation provides a new direction in targeting RNA G4C2 repeats with small molecules that can inhibit the pathobiological effects driven by this expanded repeat.”